Monday, January 16, 2006

Faith in Politics: My View

For some time I have been frustrated by the Democratic party’s inability to connect with people of faith, regardless of what that faith may be. It had been on my mind to post about this and had emailed with other bloggers about it. A short time ago I sent out a call for bloggers, especially political bloggers, to post about if and how their faith and their politics converge. LVDem had suggested Martin Luther King’s birthday as a good time to write on this subject. So, here is my post. To stay on topic I have limited my remarks to politics and faith and not my religious beliefs generally.

I have noticed that if you walk into a Democratic political meeting and say you had a rough day and plan to go home and have a beer many people will nod. If you walk in and say you had a rough day and your horoscope predicted it that morning people will accept it without comment. If you say you had an argument with a co-worker and you will really need to meditate that night to restore your equilibrium no one will bat an eye. But if you walk in and say you are having a rough time with a co-worker and you’ve really been in prayer about it people will back off as if you said you had a communicable disease. Since I don’t go to Republican political events I can’t say you would have the same reactions there, but the Republicans seem to have a better time talking about faith in general. While life is often filled with anxiety and worry, especially for those with children and other family obligations, or health problems, religion provides a way to set those worries aside, even if only for a little while. Drowning these feelings in alcohol or other substances or seeking comfort from spiritualism in some form is acceptable but faith seems to make the Democratic leadership uncomfortable. For many of the faithful religion provides a bedrock upon which to build a life. While I may not want to see the Ten Commandments in a courtroom I place a great value on them, as do many others, and feel that in the Democratic rush to keep them out of the public square, they were trampled on just a bit.

It is fairly accepted and backed up by a good body of evidence that people who attend church or other religious services vote more often and with greater regularity than the populace at large. Why is that? My theory is that being active in a religious community ties you to your neighbors and gives a sense of belonging and with it, communal responsibility. Most religions teach compassion and a sense of obligation to others. It provides a tie between us and the rest of the world.

While it is a given that church people vote, the Democratic Party has made very little effort to capitalize on that connection, except perhaps for certain minority ethnic groups, whose churches are often the only place to contact large groups of voters at a time and where ministers tend to have a large sway over the congregation. Otherwise, there seems to be little attempt to contact the faithful either individually or in groups.

Nor does the party present their message in ways that attract instead of repel the faithful. I believe in a separation of church and state, and view it as my responsibility that my children are raised in an atmosphere of faith and taught the tenets of their religion. I don’t want religion taught in public schools because it may not be my religion. The Democratic Party tends to discuss the separation of church and state not as a way of respecting all faiths and denominations within faiths, but as a way of keeping religion at bay as if it were an evil to be avoided. My faith makes me a stronger person, a better person, and it is sometimes hard for me to work in harmony with a political party that views it as a sign of a weak-mind. (Those who have trouble reconciling faith with an inquisitive intellect might enjoy Patrick Henry’s The Ironic Christian’s Companion; it can be difficult to find but is well worth the effort).

While politics tends to be one big game of “King of the Hill,” religion (at least mine) teaches that we should care for and uplift each other. This makes me less accepting of partisan bullying and of politicians and party figures whose sole purpose seems to be belittling the opposing party. For some people, especially women who are most comfortable with the more traditional aspects of life, or do not aspire to be hard-edged lawyers or CEO’s but still want to have their voices heard, the Democratic Party has little to offer. While the GOP has Laura Bush who said in her national convention speech that she wanted to talk with us as if she ran into us in the grocery store (something I can relate to), women speakers at the Democratic convention offered very little discussion of domesticity and other aspects of life I could relate to. (John Kerry’s daughters spoke of their upbringing but that was a memoir of childhood and not a discussion of their adult life.) I, too, am opinionated, but am not vocal about it and do not have a large enough bank balance to attract many listeners. I have far more in common with Tipper Gore than Hillary Clinton and I remember how Gore was vilified over her views on music labeling. My husband and I have both passed up opportunities to further our careers in order to spend more time with our children and be more active in our community, and the Democratic Party offers little respect for this. I do not aspire to be a political leader or someone who can by sheer force of personality alter public opinion, but I do want some respect for the work I do. (To get a more in-depth understanding of this outlook, read Carol Kent’s Becoming a Woman of Influence: Making a Lasting Impression on Others). My religion teaches me that the body of believers is made of many parts; some might seem more important than others but all are worthy and necessary. The GOP has learned to pay lip service to this but I doubt there is any real effort behind it. The Democratic Party has not learned to do even that.

My faith teaches me to reach out to those less fortunate and to provide them with the basics of survival and help them find their way. It teaches me to support others in their endeavors. If I cannot in good conscience do that, to at least wish they find enlightenment and happiness. Where I have choice in the matter I try to surround myself with people who will bring out the better qualities in me. The social policies of the Democratic Party are far more in line with my views than the GOP, but the Democrats do not seem to acknowledge that many people base their social views on religious beliefs or that many of us contribute to charitable causes or volunteer in community building through religious bodies. The GOP, again, at least with lip service, acknowledges the contribution of faith-based efforts, the Democrats seem to pretend they don’t exist.

I believe in individual and family choice. I do not want the government telling me how I can raise my children or how I must die or what I can and cannot do with my body. These are decisions to be made in consultation with loved ones and after praying about each matter in turn. I do not want the government teaching a state religion in the public schools or allowing one religion or denomination to alter the curriculum in those schools. My husband and I want to make the decisions on what aspects of popular culture come into our house. I believe I am responsible for my own decisions and that the economic and emotional well-being of my family is, at least in part, within my control. My faith teaches me that there is hope to be found even when things seem bleak. When the candidates I favor do not win I take the winner’s term of office as one of the dark valleys that everyone must endure, and take comfort in knowing that anyone, even someone with whom I disagree dramatically, may bring about good, although that may not be their intent.

In church, as well as in politics, common values can overcome individual differences. Although I am of the Christian faith, outside of home and church the person I talk about religion with most often and most in-depth is an Orthodox Jew. While I am a registered Democrat and often fiercely so, many of those who have been most receptive to my thoughts and ideas are Republicans, often fiercely so.

The tenets of my faith make it impossible for me to be anything other than a Democrat but I wish the party would be more receptive to and respectful of the beliefs of at least some of the party’s foot soldiers.

5 comments:

Melissa said...

Jane, I really, really liked your post. In fact, if I can ever get my religion and politics post done, I linked to what both you and ACM wrote.

To be honest, I'm sort of disappointed in the lack of participation this idea generated. I thought it was a great idea. I imagine that some of the reasons you cited in your post could be impacting the response. To me, that's a very sad commentary. Anyway, I loved what you wrote and find my own views to be very similar.

AboveAvgJane said...

Melissa,

Don't be discouraged. I have a feeling some other people will be posting later and there are probably some who have posted and I just haven't found them yet.

Thanks for your comments on the post. I felt it came off a little whiny but no matter how many times I started it that's how it always sounded. ACM did a great job.

Even is people don't post on the subject now they might later. You never know.

howard said...

Jane,

I really enjoyed your post (will have to read ACM's as soon as I'm through here). I felt ill-equipped to write this kind of post, and when I finally did settle in to write mine, I had a hard time finding focus, but hopefully, I made some kind of headway.

I think it's nice to your views in relationship to the Democratic party. That's not a perspective I can really use, as I've never been a Democrat, but I was (once upon a time) a Republican, and I ended up becoming thoroughly disgusted with that experience.

I do hope more people's thought on this pop up as the days go by. I think it was a great conversation starter -- or at least something to make us all think.

Austin in PA said...

Jane,
Thanks for a great post. Do you know Street Prophets? It's a dKos spinoff site, and aimed at just this kind of conversation.

Wanted you to know, too, that you've become one of my regular stops. For the longest time, I was spending waaaaaaay too much time buried in the national politics blogs, and ignoring the more local/regional stuff. There's such a wealth of great writers 'just down the block' from the big guys.
Thank you.

Henry Asta said...

Amos Bronson Alcott, once wrote: “To be ignorant of one’s ignorance is the malady of the ignorant.” And to believe that Americans are the center and the masters of their lives and the captains of their souls, it’s the malady of America, and to thumb one’s nose to God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth and the Master and Judge of the Universe, it’s the same as pointing a loaded Magnum forty four caliber gun to one’s head and pull the trigger.

King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, wrote in Ecclesiastes 12:11-13 “The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one Shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

If, most Americans would heed King Solomon advice, America would be the most peaceful and prosperous nation in the whole world, but instead, Americans choose to ignore God and follow their own perverted ways with disastrous results, America it’s sinking in a nightmarish quagmire, with thousands of so-called experts, who cannot see two inches pass their noses, giving ill advice about preventing America’s demise.

Americans, refuse to judge themselves with sobriety, impartiality and truthfulness. It’s always some one else’s fault, and usually they like to blame the government, politicians, political parties, liberals, conservatives, and on and on. Very seldom Americans would expend time taking inventory of themselves in front of a mirror, if they did, they would realize very quickly that only themselves are the ones to blame, for the social, economic, and moral collapse of America.

In 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court found the Bible and the Ten Commandments to be unconstitutional; as a result, they are prohibited in all public schools across America until this very day. Americans, instead of putting God first, by following and obeying all of his commandments, and oppose the U.S. Supreme Court by reversing their Godless decision, the corrupted cowards bowed their knees to the black robed tyrants, and for the last forty years Americans are producing millions and millions of spiritual fools, right out of America’s Public Schools.

Public schools is where innocent children are being taught, evolution or science fiction, sex education or sex perversion, and the perverted homosexual agenda by godless impostors, and they are also being indoctrinated into Satan’s so-called deep secrets, which are, sodomy, fornication, violence, hate, murder, Satanic worship and ignorance.
It’s no wonder why; today’s average American believer is nothing more than an ignorant wimp, and a selfish spiritual fool.

The debauch Americans are greatly sinning against the Lord by denying their own children the teachings of the scriptures, which are God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness and they are also able to make them wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus, also by committing legalized murder through abortion and by tolerating the perverted homosexual agenda. That is the reason the Lord no longer hears their prayers.

There is a great difference between being a cultural Christian and being a follower of Jesus Christ.
Self, it’s central in the lives of Cultural Christians, and they live their Christianity by a set of customs and beliefs, which have been rubbed off and have been picked up from older relatives, or a particular group of people at a particular time or place, and it has little to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Cultural Christians, given the circumstances, they will always apply or reject God’s commands according to whatever it’s most convenient, advantageous and pleasurable to them.

The founding fathers came to America fleeing persecution from English monarchial imposed religion, were the king made himself head of the Church. The founding fathers did not intended to have a state sponsored religion in the new Republic, that is the reason why they included in the First Amendment the restrictive clause, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” they were going to take no chances of having some immoral fool like the king of England proclaim himself the head of the Church of the United States of America, and at the same time they wanted to have the God given freedom of worship by declaring into law “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” including in and throughout all branches of Government.

But the First Amendment was not enough to stop The Supreme Court in 1947 to impose it own religion, Secular Humanism upon the fifty states of the United States, by an act of treason Justice Hugo Black who had a personal agenda against Catholics, and was also a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, fooled the spiritless American people and specially the apostate Christian Church, and was unchallenged and successful in erecting a fictional wall of separation between Church and State, contrary to what the founding fathers envisioned and in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The First Amendment guarantees religion freedom, America was founded for the most part by Christians seeking religious freedom and the right to worship without Government interference as stated by our founding fathers.
I really hate to burst your bubble, but let me tell you that The United States of America it’s a Republic rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s not a secular Democracy like many of you erroneously believe.

“It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” Patrick Henry [May 1765 Speech to the House of Burgesses]

"The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: 'it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity." President John Quincy Adams, July 4, 1821

“We recognize no Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus!”
[April 18, 1775, on the eve of the Revolutionary War after a British major ordered John Adams, John Hancock, and those with them to disperse in “the name of George the Sovereign King of England."]

“ Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” Source: October 12, 1816. The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports . . . And let us indulge with caution the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion . . . Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail to the exclusion of religious principle." From President George Washington's Farewell Address

“The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men.” Samuel Adams

"America was born a Christian nation. America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness, which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scriptures. Ladies and gentlemen, I have a very simple thing to ask of you. I as of every man and woman in this audience that from this night on they will realize that part of the destiny of America lies in their daily perusal of this great book of revelations. That if they would see America free and pure they will make their own spirits free and pure by this baptism of the Holy Scripture." Woodrow Wilson, 1911, pre-Presidential campaign speech.

With such overwhelming evidence, how can anyone claim that there is a wall of separation between Church and State? Only the godless, driven by their hate of Jesus Christ, can willfully refuse to acknowledge the First Amendment, the reason being, they want to impose their own religion, “Secular Humanism”.
Any novice English reader can tell with certainty by reading the First Amendment that there is no such wall of separation between Church and State.

It’s very imperative, Americans must be warned of the impending judgment decreed on the land, Americans must humble themselves and repent of their apostasy by welcoming and enthroning and glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ, and by obeying all of his Commandments.

Americans, after surrendering their wills to Jesus Christ, first and foremost they must work very diligently to reintroduce the Bible and the Ten Commandments in all public schools, federal, state and city governments, and it’s very important that they reverse abortion on demand, and also they must declare homosexuality a perverted abomination, and all homosexuals must be redirected back to the closets from where they came from, and where they belong.

America is under the righteous judgment of God Almighty, who has allowed the godless to prevail and thrive, and also, the Church by their apostasy has grieved and rebelled against the Holy Spirit, who has became America’s fiercest enemy fighting against them.
This is what the Lord declares in Isaiah 63:10 “Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them”.

This is what the Lord declares in Ezekiel 8: 18 “Therefore I will deal with them in anger; I will not look on them with pity or spare them. Although they shout in my ears, I will not listen to them."

Until Americans humble themselves and repent, by enthroning and glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ and by obeying all of his Commandments, God the father will not listen to any of their prayers, specially to the many collective prayers and petitions of so-called believers, who call on his name but they live like the devil.

This is what the Lord declares in Jeremiah 11:14 "Do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them, because I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their distress”

And the Lord declares in Isaiah 1:15-16 “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong”,

September 11, Katrina, Illegal Immigration, Iraq and Afghanistan wars, they are all nails being made ready for the coffin of America, which is God’s judgment on the sinful nation, unfolding before our very eyes.

The fact is, after the U.S is long gone, God will still be God, and he will remain the Supreme Sovereign of the Universe. God does not need the U.S., but America is very much in need of God.

It’s inconsequential who is in controls of the White House or Congress; destruction has been decreed, overwhelming and righteous. The LORD Almighty, will carry out the destruction decreed upon the whole land of America, that calls on his name, but do not obey his commandments.

This is what the Lord declares in Deuteronomy 28: 43-48 "The alien who lives among you will rise above you higher and higher, but you will sink lower and lower. He will lend to you, but you will not lend to him. He will be the head, but you will be the tail.
All these curses will come upon you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the LORD your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you. They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendants forever. Because you did not serve the LORD your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the LORD sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you".

This is what the Lord declares in Jeremiah 25:27-28 "Then tell them, 'This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Drink, get drunk and vomit, and fall to rise no more because of the sword I will send among you.' But if they refuse to take the cup from your hand and drink, tell them, 'This is what the LORD Almighty says: You must drink it!

This is what the Lord declares in Jeremiah 25:15-16 This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: "Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. When they drink it, they will stagger and go mad because of the sword I will send among them."

Americans must begin to hasten in obedience to God, the all Wise and Powerful Master and Creator of the Universe, for their own good. The self-delusional always speak about God’s love, but never about God’s justice.

This is what the Lord declares in Amos 5: 23-24 “Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

The Church must humble herself and repent by enthroning and glorifying King Jesus and by obeying all of his Commandments. The Church first and foremost must work very diligently in reintroducing the Bible and the Ten Commandments in all public schools, federal, state and city governments and must reverse abortion on demand, and declare homosexuality a perverted abomination; only then God may forgive and save America.

Many have tried to outsmart God, but they have being burned and destroyed forever, including Satan, it’s futile to try to outsmart God. This is what the Lord declares in Psalm 18: “To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd”

This is what the Lord declares in Isaiah 28:22 Now stop your mocking, or your chains will become heavier; the Lord, the LORD Almighty, has told me of the destruction decreed against the whole land.


Henry